Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rocking your world 2014; Week 26

Let's start with a smile this week. Anyone who has spent hours trying to make convincing animal shadows with their hands, to keep their children/grandchildren amused, should appreciate this little bunny, contorting himself to make a hand shadow. I spotted him on the web this week and just had to share.

I have had a mixed week this week as my husband's sister finally lost a long, long battle with cancer. So this time it is my turn to stay here with the animals while he returns to UK for the funeral next Thursday. There are only two flights a week from this area so he will have to go on Tuesday and come back on the Saturday. Of course we are all really sad to lose this brave lady, but only for ourselves. For her, we are grateful that she is now at peace, and all the awful treatments are at an end. Our young families grew up together, so thanks for all the happy memories Mary. Here are a bunch of cousins, her three and our youngest three, all lined up on the swing seat in her garden, about 27 years ago.
As I told you last week, our final Cantante concert was stopped by a terrific storm. Well it turned out to not be our last one after all. This Tuesday we did an extra one which in many ways turned out to be the best one of all. One of our tenors has been unable to sing this season, again because of that horrible illness cancer. He is now in a nursing home in the village of Velez Rubio, and as he had been unable to even attend any of our concerts, we took one to him. It turned out to be a very big home for the elderly, but they seemed to be a mix of fairly healthy folk, and others who needed constant care. They were mostly Spanish, and they were so excited to see us.
They all came into the big communal dining room, and sat around, some in wheelchairs, some on comfy sofas, and some perched wherever they could. There were a few of their family visitors as well. We did a slightly shortened version of our Spanish programme, where there are still mostly songs in English, but also half a dozen in Spanish. They tapped their feet, and sang along to any they knew, and they absolutely loved it. We all made a point of hugging at least one of them after the concert, and I think most of us managed a few words with almost all of them. We are already booked to return and sing at Christmas. It is good to know we brought some real joy into their lives that afternoon.
It was about an hour's drive to get to the home, and once again rain was forecast. As we drove inland, and the road rose gradually higher and higher, we watched the clouds rolling down to meet us.
The sky got very dark, and soon the first big, penny sized drops, started to fall on the windscreen. But we arrived before it got too bad. (The line down the right side of this photo is because I took it through the car windscreen as my husband was driving).
It turned out to be just a 'storm in a tea-cup' and by the time we drove home the sky was a washed out blue again. This is a view of the lovely Cabrera mountains that we can see from our house, and whenever we drive home along the motorway.
The pink flowers behind the barrier are oleanders, and they are beautiful at this time of year. They are highly toxic to animals, and I have read that they are planted all along the central reservation of the autovia, to stop the deer and other wild animals from coming off the natural park areas onto the road for food. They instinctively know not to touch the oleanders.
This is something I will be doing quite a lot of for the next few weeks. The yellow cling peaches are in season, and they almost give them away in the market. They are edible raw, but not very exciting, but they cook beautifully. I usually halve them to remove the stones, and poach them in a little bit of lemonade, which provides the only sweetness they need.
They look like a pan of bright sunshine, and once cooked they make delicious pies and crumbles, or sliced and eaten cold they taste just the tinned ones we buy in UK.
We had a busy day on Monday when first our electrician friend Tony came, to fit the new combined ceiling fan and light in our main room. It makes such a difference to have a good light in there, especially when I want to knit or sew of an evening.

Just as he left, another friend, John, arrived to install
a new TV system. The first job was to move the big satellite dish from the side wall to round at the back of the house. This was quite difficult as the walkway at the back is only the width of the ladder, and after the railings there is a steep drop down into the green-zone. So John and Chris worked together to get the dish set up in its new position. Then the cable had to be fixed around the house, through the wall, and all around the sitting room. Finally the new satellite we are using had to be tracked, and everything set to continue to receive from it. They were finally done at 10.00 that night. So now we can once again watch 'live' TV with most of the main channels. It is much better than the previous system we tried which used the internet, as our supply in the village couldn't cope with it at peak times. We don't watch a lot of television, especially though the summer, but it is nice to know we can again, if we want to.
We are immensely proud of all our sons, and we do our best to keep up to date with all their news. This week, yesterday actually, was our oldest sons 43rd birthday. Isn't it strange how I can remember the day he was born as though it was yesterday, yet what I actually did yesterday is already lost in the mist of busy life! But here is son number one, with his lovely family.
Jim is a vicar near Wolverhampton, and I enjoy visiting his church whenever I am in the area. I was pleased to hear that the card I made for him, actually arrived on the right day. That doesn't happen very often!

While visiting a local DIY warehouse, that has a pet shop in one corner, I picked up a couple of cat-nip toys for Tango and the others to play with. He liked the crinkly bag and promptly laid down on it, but I guess it is too hot to be very playful these days, because he hasn't seemed to be particularly stimulated by the cat-nip to play any more.
His hair is beginning to grow back now, and it looks a bit piebald. I don't think he will be a true 'ginger', but it will be interesting to see how he turns out.
We had good news at the hospital yesterday. Apparently Chis will not need an operation for the time being, but they told him to lose 10Kg. Now that is a challenge!!
There are only ten days to go before our two grandsons and their lasses come out for a holiday, so there is some preparation to do, and lots to look forward to.
I see I have gone five minutes over my deadline of midnight for posting this, but, of course, it is only five past eleven in UK, so I shall get this linked up at Celtic House and Annie's Friday Smiles, and then I shall bid you all 'Good-night'.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Rocking Your World 2014; Week 25

Hello again. We have moved into that season when Life slows down, and little gets done, but somehow the weeks fly by anyway!

I am starting this week with my Friday Smile which features our newest little cat Tango. I thought I had lost him this week and spent ages scouring the house and calling all around the yard and the campo beyond, only to find him here. He had packed himself away in the narrow box that my new tower fan came in, and he didn't come out even though he must have heard me calling him! Naughty boy!

He looks so innocent doesn't he?
This was the last week of our choir concerts, and they were a rather 'hit and miss' affair. On Saturday our venue was the Convento in Vera, which is my personal favourite. I love the atmosphere there, and there is always a big, appreciative audience. Up on the stage it was a bit like being in a sauna, and I had to keep mopping up with a handful of tissues so I didn't drip all over my music, but I still enjoyed it. We had some generous donations to our two charities as well. Afterwards we sat outside a bar on their terrace for drinks with friends, which was a lovely way to end the evening. It stayed really warm right through 'til midnight. The only photo I took was of the bell tower of the Convento, looking back at it from the plaza where we were sitting.

Then Monday should have been our final concert,
which was a 'Party in the Park' style event. One of our singers, kindly lets us use her house. It is set out in the campo, with a large terrace and pool, and small covered bar and outdoor kitchen at the end. 
Everyone arrives early with their table and chairs and their picnic, and chooses their pitch around the pool. Then later on, the choir stands along the steps of the veranda for the concert, followed by an end of season party. Well there was as usual, a great turn-out, and we all enjoyed our picnics. You may notice some folk looking rather anxiously at the sky. And they had good reason to! Now this is June, and it isn't supposed to rain in June. In fact it has never rained in June in the five years we have lived here. But rain was forecast for that night, and sure enough, by concert time the clouds were gathering fast.
Not deterred we started to sing, but after song number five we stopped to move the electric piano onto the veranda and placed umbrellas strategically over any other electrical equipment. We managed one more song, but then RAIN STOPPED PLAY.
In Spain when it rains, it does it properly, and we stood amazed as the sky was lit by flash after flash of lightening, and the air was torn by the crashes of thunder. Water spouted from the corners of the roof, (we do not have gutters as they are rarely needed!), picnics were abandoned, and everyone fled for cover.
A few hardy souls, who live nearby, stayed and I gather there was a party under the bar shelter. But we decided to go home, partly because it was a long drive for us in such conditions, and partly because the dogs were in the yard, and one of them is terrified of any loud noise, particularly thunder.
But hey! this is supposed to be a happy blog, so where is the positive we can draw from this. Well, the ground is so dry and any rain is greatly needed, though it would really need to come down like that for a few days rather than a few hours, to do real good. But I guess there were far more poor folk, trying to eke a living from their little plot of land, who were praying for rain that night, than there were of us, praying for the rain to hold off! So I bet they were happy. Also the rain did stop later, though we had another storm in the middle of the night, so ever mindful of the awful floods in September 2012, we were grateful that there was no serious damage, or loss of life that we have heard of.

On Saturday I had my last conversation session with my young Spanish friend Isa, at least for now. She has done her exams which went fairly well, and I think I have genuinely been able to help her. It has shown her boss that she is serious about improving so he has now given her a permanent contract, instead of the weekly one she has existed on all this year! So that was great news. If necessary she will retake some of her papers in the Autumn, and I have promised to meet up with her again after all our Summer visitors have gone. As a 'Thank You' she gave me this lovely plant. I have not had a lot of success with house plants since I moved here, but I will give this some TLC and try to keep it in good condition.
I go to either our village market on Tuesday or the one in Turre on Friday, most weeks. and usually there are one or two local growers selling their own produce, along side the more commercial stalls. One in Turre has bags of whatever is in season, all for one euro each, and I sometimes buy sweet peppers, tomatoes or oranges. But last week I bought hot peppers; I'm not sure why, because I don't use a lot of them, but they looked so lovely, with their shiny skins in a mix of red, green and yellow. Needless to say they sat in the bottom of the fridge for a week, but yesterday I decided I needed to do something with them while they were still useable. I washed them all, and discarded any that were 'turning', and I picked out a few to keep to use fresh. Then I tipped all the rest into my big blender with a little distilled vinegar and roughly pureed them all. I spooned them into an ice-cube tray and froze them. Each cube will do us quite a few meals, as they are rather large ones. The last bit of purée I put in a small jar and I added a little of this to our mince and beans at lunch time. If I tell you that I used about a quarter of a tea-spoon and it was plenty hot enough, I think you will agree that I won't need to buy any more chilies for at least another year!
And what else has lifted me this week?
I was delighted to hear that my son's partner has passed her degree and is now a qualified occupational therapist. So the three years of hard work while living on a very tight budget, has paid off for them, and hopefully now, one of the seven jobs she has applied for so far, will also come through for her. Well done Ella!
While escaping from the football madness, I have had time in my craft room, and have put my Silhouette machine to good use again. I have had limited success with it, cutting card, but with a new blade in, it did a good job this week. I can't show the cards I made yet as they are for a challenge coming up next week.
I used some new stamps to make a birthday card for one of my sisters and I won a prize with it in another challenge, and that is always encouraging.
While we were out shopping for a new ceiling light with a fan for our main room, Chris also bought a tower fan for me to have in my craft room. I have been glad of it this week as the temperature has been in the mid-thirties most afternoons, and it keeps the room much cooler without blowing all my papers everywhere, like the floor-standing fan used to. So I am very grateful for that.
A few years ago I gave my youngest son a scrapbook of his first twenty-one years, and he just loves it. It was made in the days before I knew anything about digital crafting, so a lot of work and love went into making it. At odd times he gets it out to look through, and posts random pages on Facebook, and it gives me a real glow to know it gives him as much pleasure to look at, as it gave me to make it. I also made one for the next son up, but whether the older three ever get one, remains to be seen. They will definitely be digital ones if they do, or at least hybrids (a mix of both). So this week I will leave with you with a couple of pages from his book. I had to photograph the finished pages so they are not as good as a saved digital page, but they will give you an idea of what it is like. First, recording a lovely day on the river near Llangollen, one of our last unplanned outings before he left home.
And here are some memories of him with his Grandma, (my Mum) who lived with us until she died in her ninetieth year, when my son was just seven. She had been with us for most of his life, so she was very special to him.
And now I will get this linked up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Virginia over at Celtic House, and then I shall go and sit on the porch with the dogs for company, and sew a few more threads on my cross-stitch picture.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Rocking your world 2014; Week 24

What a lovely week we have had. It has been hot and busy, but I have still managed to find a little time to PLAY. I am enjoying using my silhouette cameo machine and I find myself wandering round the house looking for things to add vinyl to! So this week the fridge got the treatment. I hope it makes you smile!

It looks as though it knows it is full of good food! At the age of 67 I am entering my second childhood, and sometimes it is even more fun than it was first time around! I love to see my friends' faces when they spot it, and I think, if it makes me smile each time I walk into the kitchen for a while, then it has done its job well, and when the novelty wears off, I can peel it off and do something different. I will be sharing this on Annie's Friday Smiles.
It has been a busy, busy week, as along with all my usual activities, we have had three Cantante concerts in a week, with another one to come tomorrow and one on Monday. This Tuesday we had the concert in my village, which is extra work for me as I liaise between Cati from ASADIS, the town hall for the practical things like hiring the hall etc, and the choir leaders. With the help of a couple of friends, we spent the early evening putting out 100+ chairs, which turned out to all need washing. They must have been left out on the street in the rain after the last fiesta. We didn't have quite such a large audience as we had at Christmas, but it was a very enjoyable evening. Everyone was so grateful to us, and we raised a good sum in donations for the children of ASADIS. 
In the weeks leading up to the concert, Cati worked with a small group of children from the village, teaching them three songs which they sang to open the concert. And very well they sang, too!

Last night we were at a new venue, a restaurant
down in Mojacar Playa, called the Kimrick. We were a bit aprehensive as we had been told the ceiling was low, so the acoustics would be difficult. But we needn't have worried. The sound was good, and the audience were so appreciative. Many of them had not heard us before, and they all asked for notification of our next concerts, so they could come again. This photo was taken at the end of the concert, while some of the choir and guests were waiting for their supper to be served. There is a happy buzz of conversation, which made you feel that the evening had gone well.
Tomorrow we are at a very different setting, The Convento in Vera. As its name suggests, this is a theatre in what was the chapel of an old convent. It is a slightly more formal affair, but we have sung there before and we love it. And we usually get a full house there too.
Other things that have lifted me this week? Well, I finally managed to have my first dip of the year in our pool. The water has been warm enough for a while, but somehow I never found the right time. It was a lovely refreshing break after a busy day. 
Through various e-mails and Facebook messages first, I managed to find a time when we were both available, and had a long chat on skype with two of my sons, and my sister. It was good to hear that son number three is settling down in his new flat in Denmark, and is making some friends there, though he is finding the Danish language lessons rather tough!
I am delighted to be able to announce that I will be a Great-grandma for the second time at Christmas. I 'spotted' the tell-tale signs on my recent visit to UK but was sworn to secrecy until she was ready to tell everyone, which, after her 12 week scan this week, she did. When I asked her on my visit, she said "I knew Granny Perry would notice"! Well I guess I have had plenty of practice.
I had five lots of mail all on one day which is almost unheard of unless it is my birthday. I had ordered various small bits of craft stuff from different companies, and for some unknown reason, they all arrived together. So after the last concert on Monday, I shall have a nice time trying everything out.

I decided it was time to sort through all my 'Knitting for Africa', and bag it up ready to go to UK. I rang my courier friend, Phil, and he said he will be going over at the beginning of July and would fit it in his van then. The total this time is;
42 blankets:
68 cardigans
50 jumpers and assorted hats
And there will be a few more items finished off by the end of the month I expect. That should bring a little happiness to quite a few African families shouldn't it?

At this time of year, a walk around the local market is always a happy spot in my week. I just love all the fresh summer fruits, and the market stalls are dripping with them right now. Look at this lovely selection I bought on Tuesday - peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums and cherries - all between 1 and 1.5 euros a kilo.
Even storing them in the fridge, they have a limited life in this heat, so any that are getting a bit soft, end up in the blender. This morning I used the last pieces of a water melon, one carrot, half an apple and half a banana, and instead of the apple juice I usually thin it down with, I added a small carton of plain yoghurt and made a lovely sunshine orange breakfast drink.
The other thing that gives me great pleasure is the garden. I am wary of getting the hose out too often as there is a lack of water this year, but I do give my pots just enough to keep them alive, and they are rewarding me with a lovely display of flowers. Here is my yellow hibiscus. This is the one that turns orange in the winter if there is a lot of rain, but it always reverts to its true colours in the summer. Isn't it beautiful?
And finally, this pot is home to three different pink geraniums that I bought recently. What a lovely spot of colour they make on the front step.
And on that colourful note I will go and link up with Annie's Smiles, and Virginia at Celtic House, and I'll see you all again next week.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Rocking Your World 2014: Week 23

Here we go with the high spots of another week. Come over to Virginia's blog at Celtic House, and share your happy moments too. It is a good way to lift your spirits.

I am starting with my Friday Smile which this week is a sort of  'Shaggy Dog' tale. Meet Miki.

Definitely a shaggy dog! One of Miki's parents was a full breed German Shepherd, but I wouldn't like to hazard a guess as to what the other one was. Just look at that soppy grin!
She is perpetually untidy, very friendly, and peace-loving, lazy with a tendency towards being overweight and no inclination to do exercise to help with that. (I could be describing me instead of the dog!!). We love her to bits, but you have to wonder what is really inside all that hair?
Well now you know.
Yes. This week Miki went for her annual haircut. Doesn't she look different? The poor thing was on the grooming table for four and a half hours, but they did a really good job on her, and she finished off with a bath and blow-dry, so she smells better too! Her body is firm and smooth, but not as fat as we had expected. I have to admit that really I like the shaggy mop-head look, but this will be so much better and more comfortable for her during the summer. She looked quite happy with it when she settled down for her siesta this afternoon.
I shall link this up over at Annie's Friday Smiles. Do come over and share a smile with us.

Well the week has flown past. We had another very successful Cantante concert last night. There was a good audience who all said how much they enjoyed it.

I managed to find a day to make a big pan of Picalili.
It is quite a long task to actually prepare and chop all the vegetables, which is done the evening before, so they can be covered with salt and left to marinate overnight. But the next day it is quite quick to mix up the sugar, spices and vinegar, and cook the rinsed vegetables. I think it looks lovely in the pan, with all the colours. I made sixteen jars but I expect they will soon be sold.

Tango is continuing to find his place in the family. I have been keeping him indoors as we live right on the main road into the village, and I don't know how street-wise he is. Also I didn't want the other cats to chase him away before he is familiar with his surroundings. But they are all getting along quite well. Paco and Luna mainly ignore him, but there have still been no fights, and this week I had a real surprise when I went down to my craft room and found this!
Feisty Arwen doesn't even like sharing 'her window-seat' with me, and it is my craft table! Tango didn't stay there for long, but it is a sign of his temperament that he was prepared to risk it, and he got away with it. Arwen would never have allowed the other cats up there. Fur would have flown!
So now I am leaving the back door open some of the time and I am delighted to find that Tango is happy to go out for a while, often sitting within sight of the others, and then he comes back in without me calling him. In fact he looks quite at home out there doesn't he?
He'll never be able to 'smile for the camera', but he purrs a lot.

I was pleased when I went for my monthly diabetic blood test recently and my sugar count was just one point inside the 'normal' range. Once you are on the register for diabetes you cannot get off it again, but this was my best result in the five years we have been out here, and it shows that all my fruit and vegetable blends are doing me more good than harm. I was a bit worried about the amount of sugar in the fruit, but I seem to be processing it correctly. Next week when I get my annual in-depth analysis results, I will find out whether it has done the same for my cholesterol levels too.

It is getting quite warm out here now, but we have had a few showers that are really needed, so we are not complaining about them. But it has also been very windy in the afternoons, and the wind is so strong that we have had to close some windows, and stay indoors. But today was calm and this afternoon I sat out on the porch to do some of my rather neglected cross-stitch. It is a good, bright light for sewing, but shady so I don't get too hot. I rarely sit right out in the sun, and if it is too bright, I can't see to sew. 
The dogs like it when we sit out with them, but today
Kim wasn't keen to let me sew. He kept coming up and putting a paw on my work to stop me. I had to give him a bit of fuss and then he settled down again for while. In the end the heat got to him and he joined Miki in having a siesta. I actually got quite a bit of sewing done too. But it isn't going to be finished any time soon!

And finally here is a piece of wall art for our room that I finished yesterday. It has been 'in the process' for quite a while, but I shelved it so that I could finish similar pieces to take to my sons in UK, but I am glad it is now finished. The background was made in Adobe Photoshop, and the words are cut from vinyl using my silhouette cameo machine. If you are interested in knowing more, you can read the process on my other blog by clicking on This Link.
Right, now it is link up time with Annie and Virginia. Have a great week everyone.